Well, 2016 is rounding off to a close and folks, it’s been quite a year. Much of it has been spent riding the dating rollercoaster, so here is a round-up of some of the lessons I’ve learned through all of the thrills, spills and chills. If you’ve been there may I raise from you a wry and knowing smile. If not then please take this opportunity to live vicariously through my experiences, and then whisper a prayer of thanks that there but for the grace of God…..
So, in no particular order, here’s 9 lessons learned from dating after divorce.
Dating after divorce
1. Finding your level
There’s a saying in sport that it’s all about levels. While a minnow will occasionally spring a surprise against the big boys in the cup, on the whole the table doesn’t lie. The teams around you reflect your level. Dating for the first time in over 20 years, I had no idea of what level I would find myself playing at. Well, I’ve only gone and done a Leicester. Against all expectations I have managed to find myself playing some Champions League stuff this season. Unbelievable Jeff.
2. 50 ways to leave your (well, I thought you could be but apparently not) lover
It’s one thing finding them, another thing entirely keeping them. Honestly, I’ve been blown out more times than a windsock this year. Hey ho, such is life and as the saying goes, it’s a numbers game. It does however get a little hard to take when the reasons for getting dumped begin to feel like the universe having a piss-take:
- ‘I’m not in the right place for dating right now’ – errrr, I’d say, I thought we met on a dating site
- ‘I’m not ready for a relationship’ – thanks, it would have been nice if you could have told me that a few weeks ago when you were telling me that, errr, you wanted ‘the full thing’ (to be fair, maybe I misinterpreted….)
- ‘The married guy left his wife for me this morning’ – cool, sounds like a keeper (OK I confess, my reaction wasn’t quite so sanguine and resulted in a run-in with a wall that resulted in a painfully bruised knuckle for a few weeks)
- …………. – ahhh, and then there would be the ‘ghosters’, because even though we are middle-aged adults apparently some of us think it better to just disappear than having the decency to just fucking tell somebody that we’ve been seeing that we won’t be seeing them again. Really, we’re grown ups, could we maybe try acting like them?
3. Sex. It’s fucking great isn’t it?
4. (Not so) great expectations
In my early days of dating an approaching first date would bring with it a certain excitement and hope. A few first dates later and this childish naivety was replaced by a more worldly ‘no expectations, let’s just enjoy the night out’ approach. A few (figurative) kicks in the nuts later and it was ‘expect the worst’ territory. Timeout! As soon as dating becomes a chore it’s time to take a break, after-all, isn’t it meant to be fun?
5. There’s plenty of fish (with plenty of baggage)
It’s true that there are plenty of fish in the sea. As a middle-aged dater I have discovered that there’s also plenty of fucking issues. Amongst the terminal debris of various dating sites you will find more baggage than a Kardashian vacation; if it’s smooth sailing you’re expecting then you’d better think again. To be fair I’ve been guilty myself of boarding the dating express without checking in my baggage; not anymore, it’s much easier to reach your desired destination by travelling light.
6. There’s some sick puppies out there
In meeting a number of women I’ve heard a lot of stories about the men that are cruising through the dating pool. Paranoids, possessives, foot fetishists, overgrown adolescents, a man that wants the special lady in his life to wear her knickers for five days straight then to wear them himself afterwards, adulterers, men that like a high heel to make an acquaintance with their testicles…. No shit (although I’m sure there’s some strange creatures out there that wouldn’t mind). When this is the competition and you’re still single, it’s hard not to think that maybe it’s time to settle for life with a cat and a hairy palm.
7. I fucking hate WhatsApp
As we discovered in number 2 there is a dating phenomenon called ghosting. Just to rub it in we have WhatsApp. I fucking hate those blue ticks, mocking me, delighting in letting me know that she was online 50 times in the last half hour and still hasn’t fucking answered the message I sent 3 hours ago. Oh well, at least thanks to Facebook I know she’s alive and well and has eaten a giant bag of Minstrels for tea.
8. What base we at?
Time was we all knew what first base, second base etc were and we had a decent idea of how our dating was going by reaching some pretty clear milestones. Not anymore.
Social media and online dating sites have made dating into a puzzle worthy of The Krypton Factor. When do we friend request our date on Facebook? Should we ‘check-in’ to places together? Should we like their posts / photos or will that be a bit too forward? When do we delete our dating profiles? Are we ‘exclusive’? Are we in a relationship if we haven’t announced it on Facebook? Do we need to discuss updating our relationship status or do we just do it and hope for the best?
Considering some of these questions may help to prevent situations such as finding yourself in bed with someone in the morning, and finding out that she is on a first date with someone else when you message her in the evening.
9. A new hope
Yes it’s a numbers game, and yes you will face disappointments along the way, possibly lots of them. Inevitably this can lead to knocked confidence and an unwillingness to put yourself out there at risk of being let down and hurt again – in the end only you will know when to take a break and when to throw yourself back into the fray. But know this, wherever there is disappointment there is also a road ahead of you that will lead you to somewhere better; and the light always appears brighter when you have had to emerge from the dark to find it.
Matthew’s debut book, Something Changed: Stumbling Through Divorce, Dating & Depression, is available now Click here for info
Let’s Stay Together – Al Green